Trudeau promises $75M more for off-reserve Indigenous services in pandemic


OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is sending $75 million to organizations that help Indigenous people living in urban areas and off reserves through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government had previously promised $15 million in funding for services such as counselling, health care, food and supportive housing.

More than a million Indigenous people live in cities or off reserves, Trudeau says, and they deserve good services that are culturally appropriate.

The Liberals have promised $290 million for organizations representing First Nations, Metis and Inuit people, primarily on reserves and in Indigenous communities.

The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, which represents Indigenous people living off reserves, has said that imbalance is discriminatory, denying adequate help to some people depending on where they live.

Service organizations have said that demand for the help they provide is up and it's difficult to provide it with anti-pandemic safety measures in place.

During his daily press conference, Trudeau said the federal government is focused on increasing testing so that the country can avoid another lockdown should a second wave hit. 

Trudeau reiterated that Canada needs to do more testing and contact tracing, particularly in Ontario and Quebec. He said the federal government will provide resources and equipment for that to happen, adding that even regions with low case rates need to be able to test and trace vigorously to contain any future outbreaks.

When asked whether the government will press airlines to fully refund tickets rather than offer vouchers that travellers might not be able to use, Trudeau said the government will be having ‘careful discussions’ with airlines. He also said the federal government is looking at what other countries have done.

The Canadian Press

With files from

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